Lenders continue to wrench away GTL promoter stake
ICICI Bank picks up 29% in GTL by invoking pledged shares; last week IFCI picked up 18% in GTL Infra
More than half of the promoters’ holding in GTL Ltd was wrested by its lender ICICI Bank on Friday, spelling a fresh crisis at the debt-laden telecom infrastructure business — GTL Ltd and GTL Infra — of Manoj Tirodkar, the rags-to-riches businessman.
On Friday, GTL Ltd informed the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) that lender ICICI Bank picked up a little over 29% equity in the company by acquiring shares of the company pledged as security for loans taken.
With this, promoters have become minority stakeholders in their own company, with ICICI being the largest shareholder.
It is not clear if lenders will look at a sale of the company to recover their loans. “Please refer to the notice filed to the stock exchanges,” a spokesperson for GTL said. The spokesperson added that debt restructuring takes time.
A spokesperson for ICICI Bank declined to comment.
The last time Tirodkar — who figured in the Forbes billionaire list earlier this year — was in the eye of a storm was about a decade ago when he was associated with the controversial insider trader Ketan Parekh.
As was the case back then, it is the minority investors who are at the receiving end of the promoters’ misjudgements.
With the steep fall in share prices during the last few weeks, GTL promoters have been forced to pledge almost all of their shares with lenders as security for debt. Following ICICI’s decisive move, promoters now hold about 23% in the company
Last week it was the turn of another lender IFCI Ltd, which invoked pledged shares to pick up 18% in group company GTL Infrastructure. As trouble brewed in the company, its chief executive A Ravi resigned last week.
The two firms together have net debt of over 10,000 crore. SBI Capital is understood to be working with the company to undertake credit restructuring to ensure that lenders’ interests are protected.
With lenders stepping in to protect their loans, investors have taken a renewed interest in the shares of both companies which rose a little over 9% on Friday on BSE. While GTL Infra closed at 15, shares of GTL ended the trade at 74.85 on Friday, with a combined market capitalisation of 2,164 crore.
Earlier in the day, a section of media reported that another telecom tower company Viom Networks has made a 7,500 crore bid for GTL Infrastrucure.
“Viom has not entered into any formal discussion with the company and hence the question of ¤7,500 crore or
10,500 crore being the offer value does not arise,” GTL Infra said.